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Efficient and novel CO2 compression technology for carbon-neutral electricity generation

Important description
The Climate Change Act 2008 [1] sets a legally binding target of 80% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels). One key strategy to meet this ambitious target is the electri?cation of transportation and industry, assuming that electricity production can be virtually decarbonized [2]. To succeed, gas and coal-?red power stations will have to be fitted with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. CCS is a relatively mature technology in the Oil & Gas industries for enhanced oil recovery but is not currently economically viable when applied to power generation. The cost of CCS in a pulverized coal-power plant with an amine?based capture would represent around 25% of the plant power rating, of which CO2 capturing and compression account for 15% and 10%, respectively [3]. While the cost of CO2 capturing is decreasing, compressing CO2 to its supercritical state (its thermo-dynamical state in the geological cavities where it is to be stored) continues to be a major challenge, and costs are set to increasingly dominate.
One key challenge in CO2 compression is related to the speci?c aspects of compressor aerodynamics. The project offers to investigate and overcome some basic aspects of the ?ow physics involved in a novel compressor design, potentially halving CO2 compression costs [4]. Classical compressor designs are signi?cantly challenged by the stringent compression requirements for CCS, especially relative to air: the sound speed in CO2 is signi?cantly reduced, particularly near the thermodynamic critical point, where real-gas effects must be accounted for and shockwaves easily form (the design is particularly sensitive to impurities within the CO2 and two?phase ?ows). One promising, robust and novel approach is to exploit the compressing properties of shockwaves to compress CO2, instantaneously delivering high pressure ratios (replacing as many as 12 stages [4]), also o?ering the possibility of filling a waste?heat recovery system to produce electricity. This approach could make CCS a commercial reality. However, shockwave/boundary-layer interactions pose a serious threat to this solution due to the undesired losses and unsteady behaviors they generate, signi?cantly impairing the e?ciency of the compressor. The project focuses on this particular issue.
The fundamental gas-dynamic properties of high?speed and turbulent CO2 near its thermodynamic critical conditions and its interaction with shock-waves are largely unexplored so that current compressor designs do not re?ect physically-sound principles. Developing a physics?based foundation for design tools will help reduce current uncertainties on the performance and cost of CO2 compression [5]. The PhD studentship makes an important contribution to this and has the following objectives:
1) Real gas effects on flow physics: shockwaves and turbulence:
Describe the fundamental properties of turbulent and high speed boundary layers in sub and supercritical CO2
Describe the ?ow topology of the shock/boundary layer interaction and its sensitivity to boundary conditions
2) Turbulence modeling in non-equilibrium boundary layers
Develop a wall-modelled LES approach to achieve the best possible trade-off between simulation costs and accuracy
3) Flow control for efficient CO2 compression
Propose and investigate possible ?ow-control approaches to mitigate entropy/momentum losses within the interaction

Eligibility and other criteria
(Students Worldwide)
This research project is one of a number of projects at this institution. It is in competition for funding with one or more of these projects. Usually the project which receives the best applicant will be awarded the funding. Applications for this project are welcome from suitably qualified candidates worldwide. Funding may only be available to a limited set of nationalities and you should read the full department and project details for further information.

Application deadline
* 01 February 2013

Additional information, and important URL

References:[1] Climate Change Act 2008, Department of Energy and Climate Change | http://www.decc.gov.uk/
[2] The Carbon Plan (2011), Department of Energy and Climate Change | http://www.decc.gov.uk/ publications/
[3] The future of coal (2007), MIT | http://web.mit.edu/coal/
[4] The past, present and future of CO2 compression (2012), Carbon Capture Journal, Sep?Oct 2012, issue 29
[5] CO2 compression for capture?enabled power systems (2009) | http://hdl.handle.net/1721.1/46616
[6] Touber & Sandham (2011), Journal of Fluid Mechanics, vol. 671, pp. 417 – 465

Up to 10 Grantham-funded studentships will be available from October 2013, for new students. Studentships cover home/EU fees and bursary for three years and are open to UK and EU candidates, as well as overseas candidates who would be able to pay the difference between home and overseas fees. Further details of the fees payable by overseas students are available on the College website ( http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/registry/studentfinancialsupport/tuitionfees ).

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